38 years ago today, inside a packed out Superdome in New Orleans, ageing superstar Muhammad Ali did what he should have done in the first place and defeated rank amateur Leon Spinks. Seven months previously, a woefully out of condition Ali was upset by the 1976 Olympic gold medal winner, losing a 15-rounder that was somehow scored as a split decision against “The Greatest.”
The February decision handed in in Las Vegas should have been unanimous in favour of 24-year-old “Neon” Leon, as Ali did nothing but clown and lay on the ropes for the first ten-rounds. How one judge scored the fight for Ali is explained only by the enormous impact Ali had on the sport and of how revered he was at the time. The rematch was a different story, at least as far as the physical and, more importantly, the mental condition of the two heavyweights was concerned.